It’s now February, one month into the new year. Are you trending to meet your 2017 patent filing commitments? Of course, we’ve all been saying quality over quantity – but for many companies, tracking the number of filings is still one of the most straight-forward ways to gauge the success of their patent programs. Below are three key questions that every patent department should be asking.
Are you meeting NOW with the right inventors?
It is critical that you are engaging with your inventors now, and if you think that new invention disclosure forms will magically appear – they won’t. When possible, IP Counsel should meet with inventors face-to-face, or schedule teleconferences to promote patent programs. IP Counsel should also look beyond R&D and Engineering to other groups within the company such as Product Management and Product Marketing. Don’t put this off until later in the year. Doing so will only result in unnecessary pressure on both you and your inventors to consider lowering your quality threshold in an attempt to meet patent filing commitments.
Are you encouraging the submission of disclosures, and do your inventors know how to do it?
Most companies do not financially reward inventors for the submissions of disclosures. That said, contests and recognition for the submission of disclosures can help to remind and encourage inventors. But keep in mind that most inventors have “day jobs,” so making the process as simple as possible is important. Collect ideas via simple forms and mobile apps that are both intuitive and easily accessible to inventors. And remind inventors at least quarterly where they can access these tools.
Are you focusing on the right technologies?
To do this, you must understand the competitive landscape. Work with internal marketing groups and leverage industry analysts to get the information you need. Be able to articulate why a particular technology area is important and the value it brings to your portfolio. Share this information with your top inventors so that they understand why you are asking them to spend their time focused on specific technology areas.
The good news is that it is only February, so if you aren’t trending towards your goal there is still plenty of time to course correct – and that means taking action now, before another month passes.